MAYVILLE — If Pennsylvania is added to New York’s Quarantine Travel Advisory, that is dire news for Chautauqua County and will create chaos.
That’s the take of a very concerned Chautauqua County Executive P. J. Wendel, who told WNYNewsNow that he is already discussing the matter with State Sen. George Borrello, Congressman Tom Reed and county executives in Orange and Rockland counties.
“It’s a dire concern,” Wendel said.
“I’m scared. I’m scared it will cripple our economy,” Wendel said.
“You better have a real good plan on what we’re going to do. Without any sort of guidance or instruction, it’s going to create chaos,” Wendel warned. “If you put Pennsylvania on this list tomorrow without any guidance, you’ve got chaos.”
He stressed that people’s health is the most important issue, but other factors need to be considered.
Wendel wondered out loud why Chautauqua County is a hot spot with 133 cases, but wasn’t a hot spot with 134 cases on Sept. 2.
“We were as high as 134 on Sept. 2, we were considered, back then we were okay, and now we have 133 and we are considered a hot spot,” Wendel observed. “We can’t open our movie theatres because of our infection rate, but we have fewer cases.”
“If you look at the counties that are not able to open their movie theatres, those are all the counties that border Pennsylvania,” Wendel said.
Wendel has reached out to the Governor’s office for an explanation and has heard nothing as of Monday afternoon.
If Wendel does get to discuss the issue with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he said he has a simple question for Cuomo.
“Explain to me why you feel shutting down our economy is the right thing to do. You feel that crippling our economy is okay for the sake of 133 (cases)?”
Locally, the county is doing a good job of holding the virus from reaching the epidemic levels of other communities, Wendel noted.
“Over half our cases right now are from Tanglewood (Manor). Is 60 a high number, certainly,” Wendel said, adding other areas of the state see hundreds of new cases on a daily basis.
“There are 18 cases in the hospital and we have a surge capacity of 253 (beds). Our health care system is not being taxed. We have demonstrated whether its FieldBrook Foods or SUNY Fredonia, when we do go out, we have been very effective,” he said.
The infection rate be read differently, depending on population, Wendel explained.
“Right now we are testing people who are sick. If you bring in five people who are symptomatic and four test positive, our infection rate is 80 percent,” Wendel said.
This issue was brought up during a control room meeting months ago, Wendel added.
“Months ago in my control room it was brought to my attention that Pennsylvania and Ohio were at the same infection rate of 5.5 percent, so I asked ‘Is Pennsylvania going to be added or Ohio taken from the list,’ ” he said.
The issue is raising concerns about why New York can be looked at by zip code, but the Governor looks at other states as a whole.
Wendel said he is sure Warren County has a lower infection rate than Pennsylvania as a whole. He also questioned how much power Cuomo has been exercising during the pandemic.
“I share that concern. The Governor has a tremendous amount of power right now and it’s very concerning.”
Is Cuomo ignoring the vast majority of healthy residents to pay attention to a small percentage of people, Wendel asked.
“Public health is to do good with all of the people. One percent (infection) out of 18 million is a pretty low number.”